The Joy of Being Reformed (10): Experiencing & Enjoying Everything Around You to the Glory & Enjoyment of Jesus Christ

Each day our gracious Lord bestows upon us countless blessings, and we tend to either miss them entirely, as in we enjoy them without even thinking about enjoying them, or to enjoy them without thinking about the Lord who gives them, as in we’re not consciously thankful to God for them. We don’t give much thought to our heartbeat throughout the day. It works, and we don’t really think about it. Similarly, it’s easy to experience and enjoy many things throughout the day without giving our Lord much thought. It’s easy to forget that James 1:17 is true: “Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights.” When we’re conscious that our loving Lord is actively and happily bestowing upon us countless blessings throughout each day, when we enjoy life’s pleasures with awareness of our Lord’s mercy and grace, our love for Him, our joy in Him, our assurance that we belong to Him, our confidence in Him, and our thankfulness for Him are all intensified. The flow of our Lord’s mercy and grace throughout life becomes more evident as we link daily delights to Him.

Think for a moment about the many sensations and experiences you enjoy and that enrich your life. What are some of those pleasures for you? Air conditioning and a cool drink of lemonade on a hot day; watching a colorful little bird outside your window; feeling the ocean breeze and hearing the waves crash upon the shore during your morning walk on the beach; the brilliant colors of the sunset; looking at the pictures and following the memories back to the moments and people pictured; the satisfying checkmark on the last item of your to-do list; the conversation with your spouse or friend that you don’t want to end; think about everything around you and the many meaningful bursts of pleasure in your life. Why are you experiencing them, and where are they meant to lead you?

We need to learn the art of awareness. Our obsession and addiction to technology make this more difficult, but we need to learn the skill of being in the moment, of being conscious of our senses, and of realizing that God is actively blessing us in delightful moments. Being aware that we’re enjoying something is instinctual, but we must learn to be thankful to God in the moment. This kind of gratitude-infused awareness is learned. It’s easy to enjoy the party and to forget to thank the host before going home. We learn awareness as our faith deepens. We learn awareness as we better learn to prayerfully depend on our Lord. Our awareness of our Lord and his loving care in real time is part of our sanctification, part of our growth in gratitude, and it will not grow and develop apart from substantial theology. The better we know God, the more aware we are of His love and care for us in the everyday experiences of life.

I’ll try to be very practical here to help you and myself develop a greater awareness of the love and care of God in the wonderful experiences of life. For example, your young child wraps his or her little arms around your neck, squeezes tightly, and says, “Mmm, Mommy I love you!” or maybe “You’re the best Daddy in the world!” That short, sweet moment gives you a burst of joy, profound joy. And it’s tempting to experience that moment without ever connecting it to Jesus Christ and his love for you, without being fully aware, without ever going back to thank the One who gave so abundantly to one so unworthy.

Article 10 of The Belgic Confession is titled “Jesus Christ True and Eternal God.” This article can help us develop a greater awareness of who Jesus Christ is and how every blessing is connected back to him. Here’s Article 10:    

We believe that Jesus Christ, according to his divine nature, is the only-begotten Son of God, begotten from eternity, not made, nor created—for then he would be a creature—but of the same essence with the Father, equally-eternal, the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature (Heb. 1:3), and is equal to him in all things. He is the Son of God, not only from the time that he assumed our nature but from all eternity, as the following testimonies, when compared with each other, teach us: Moses says that God created the world; the apostle John says that all things were made by the Word which he calls God. The letter to the Hebrews says that God made the world through his Son; likewise, the apostle Paul says that God created all things through Jesus Christ. Therefore, it must necessarily follow that he who is called God, the Word, the Son, and Jesus Christ, did exist at that time when all things were created by him. Therefore, he could say, Truly, truly, I say to you, before Abraham was, I am (John 8:58), and he prayed, And now, Father, glorify me in your own presence with the glory that I had with you before the world existed (John 17:5). And so, he is true, eternal God, the Almighty, whom we invoke, worship, and serve.

What a deep and rich Christological statement! All of it connects directly to your awareness and thankfulness. Jesus Christ is the only, eternally begotten Son of God. He has no beginning or end. He was not created for he is eternally begotten of the Father. He is equal to the Father because like the Father, he is God. He was there with God in Genesis 1:1 creating the world. As John 1:3 says, “All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made.” The Father made all things through His only, eternally begotten Son (Heb. 1:2). Consider Colossians 1:16 as you become more aware and thankful: “For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him.”

Back to the illustration of your child’s loving hug and words. How did that moment come to be? How is love possible? What’s happening in that moment? Why and how are you experiencing it? God the Father created us through His Son. God the Father gave us the capacity to love through His Son. God the Father made our senses; He made marriage, sexual pleasure, procreation, family, hugs, verbal and non-verbal communication, relational warmth and satisfaction, and our ability to experience it all; God made all things through His Son for His Son and our enjoyment of His Son and His blessings. The origin of all things, of all the world around us and its many delights, is Jesus Christ the only, eternal begotten Son of God. We owe each blessing of every day to him and him alone, and the only way to delight in these many blessings to the fullest is by faith and delight in him. Awareness and thankfulness, joy and happiness, come by grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone. As we receive the gospel by faith, the Holy Spirit intensifies and sharpens our awareness of who our God is, how much He loves us, and how delightful He is; then, as we enjoy what He gives us we enjoy who He is.

There are ten thousand different blessings that come to you each day, and you must learn to see the mercy and grace of Christ in them. Awareness and thankfulness are learned, and substantial theology helps you learn.

Reformed works like The Belgic Confession, when studied wisely, can greatly help you grasp who God is and how He is actively blessing you every day. These historical catechisms and confessions are meant to broaden your perspective on the God who is with you every day and active in your life. Awareness is an art that the Holy Spirit teaches us, and when we are aware of God and His marvelous mercy and grace, we are more and more thankful that He loves and cares for us.

Quotes from the Belgic Confession are taken from Guido de Brès & Jonathan Shirk, The Belgic Confession: Truth Worth Dying For (Manheim: Small Town Theologian, 2024). Purchase at:

Scripture quotations are from the ESV® Bible (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved. May not copy or download more than 500 consecutive verses of the ESV Bible or more than one-half of any book of the ESV Bible.

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Jonathan Shirk

Welcome to the online home of Jonathan Shirk, family man, Reformed pastor, author, podcaster, and small town theologian. Whether you're from a small town or big city, may this website help you find deeper comfort and joy in the gospel.

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